Clarke speaks on cyberwar at a Khalifa University lecture. Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: The future of warfare will no longer involve guns, missiles, spies or hand-to-hand combat. As technology and computers increasingly take over our everyday activities, what nations will fear most is cyber war warned former senior White House Adviser and cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke.

Clarke was speaking at a Khalifa University Public Lecture, ‘Cyber Security and Technology: Managing Risks of Connected Societies'. He is a member of the university's board of trustees and teaches at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He recently published a book on the topic; Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It.

In a virtual world, cyber criminal organisations, cyber espionage agencies and cyber war military units will battle it out, Clarke said. Their goal will be gaining access to governments' classified documents, companies' secret formulas, and cities' electrical grids, oil pipelines or nuclear power plants.

"The development of the internet stimulated economic growth yet reliance has led to dangers [including] hacking and cyber war."


And it's not only clandestine organisations that are hacking their way into governments', companies' and individuals' computers, says Clarke: "In case a war happens, governments are hacking into other governments' networks," said Clarke.

Clarke said the UAE government would do well to ensure its nuclear power plants, electrical grids and oil pipelines were not vulnerable to cyber attacks.

However professionals in these fields are in short supply. To this end Khalifa University has launched a masters in International and Civil Security.

"I think the need for these professionals is pretty widespread and one of the things that's unique about this field is you have to have an understanding of logistics, politics and complex systems on some level. Then it makes an important intersection with technology and cyber security," said Khalifa University president Prof Tod Laursen. Professionals from these fields have been attracted to the programme he said.